'Now I want to play a villain!'

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By Why Jisshu Sengupta is confident of doing television alongside films.
  • Published 11.06.11

A decade after Mahaprabhu — the serial that pushed him to stardom at a very tender age — Jisshu Sengupta is back on the small screen to play a father in STAR Jalsha’s Aparajito (on air from June 13), which also marks the return of his wife Nilanjanaa to acting. A t2 chat with Jisshu...

Not too many actors would want to do television after a 10-year film career...

Trust me, I don’t believe in all these things. I believe in my projects and myself. It’s not that I wasn’t doing well in films... I won’t say I was doing very well, but I would say I was doing decent work and I am still getting compliments for my last release (Noukadubi).... I listen to my heart. Getting back to television wasn’t a very thought-out decision. I have just listened to my heart and I have always been a winner whenever I have listened to my heart. Besides, I like to believe that I am an actor who is a hero; not a hero who can also act sometimes. I can work in any medium and do justice to it. So the medium doesn’t matter.

But were you thinking of recreating the success of Mahaprabhu when you took up Aparajito?

No, Mahaprabhu was not there in my thoughts because the day I started doing different kinds of cinema I started being appreciated. After Shob Charitra Kalponik people said Jisshu has done well. When I did Abohoman people said Jisshu has evolved as an actor. People said fabulous after watching Aarekti Premer Galpo. Though Mahaprabhu will always be special, that wasn’t why I decided to do another mega. I want to do good work and Aparajito has a fantastic subject.

See, I believe I am the first superstar of Bengali television. I have seen that craze during my Mahaprabhu days. I would get mobbed and people would tear my shirt! But that didn’t really go to my head because I didn’t know what I was doing. I was very young... only 19. Now I know what I am doing and I also know what I want to do in life. And that doesn’t stop me from doing television. Besides, the divide between television and films doesn’t exist anymore. It doesn’t exist in Bollywood either. But that’s not my point. I am very content with myself. I am happy and I am also getting good money from Aparajito!

So, do you plan to do TV more often now?

Right now, it’s just Aparajito. There’s too much pressure now on TV. When I did Mahaprabhu, the pressure was less.... I am also handling the production of Aparajito. So being the producer and also acting in the same production is a hell of a job. After 16 hours of shoot, I go to the office and sit at the edit bay. There is a bit of a budget constraint too. I am basically a very bad producer. We are shooting for the last 25 days and we have only completed the sixth episode, which is very bad. I was into films for the last 10 years and had no connection with TV, so it’s being a little difficult to get back into the television mode once again.

What did you like about Aparajito to be game enough to act in it?

What gave me the kick was the story of Aparajito. I haven’t seen a soap with a male protagonist in the lead on Indian television. It’s a first of its kind, based on a man and his life. I play Rahul, who is bringing up his son and daughter and also trying to become their mother as his wife Shree (Nilanjanaa) has died. It’s a very emotional story and I love emotional stories.

Would you have liked Nilanjanaa to do a longer role than just a cameo in Aparajito?

Of course. It’s nice to work with Nilanjanaa because she is a good actress. She is doing a very good job. So far it’s a little tiring because nowadays we only talk work till the two of us go to sleep. When we wake up we start talking about work again! That’s the bad part of it but then it’s good that we are spending a lot of time together. It’s just that both of us are missing our daughter (Sara) a lot. Nilanjanaa is missing her more than me because she has always been with her.

How will you divide your time between films and television?

I will work it out. I don’t want to let go of good films. I am doing Atanuda’s (Ghosh) Ek Phaali Rod, where I have a lovely role. The film hits the floors in July. We will work it out, maybe work overtime. I have also become very choosy now which I never was and which did a lot of damage to my career.

Have you bid goodbye to commercial cinema?

No. I want to do good commercial films. Now I want to play a villain and I wouldn’t mind playing a negative character in a Jeet or a Dev film!

Kushali Nag

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